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Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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 Author:    Posted: Sep. 8, 2002   This Page Viewed: 10,064,212  

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Question of the Week: 68 - 11/25/2001

Are You Wild About Harry?

Have you seen the movie? What did you think of it? Do you think that the movie will bring more people into Paganism or to the study of real magic(k)? Do you think that this is a good thing or not? Do you think that the witchcraft and magic and spells as depicted in the movie accurately (though exaggerated) reflect the basic premises of Witchcraft and magick and spellwork as we know it? What do think a good response would be to both those who want to 'do it like Harry' and to those who believe that Pottermania is anti-Christian or enticing children into the 'world of the occult'?

 Reponses:   There are 80 responses posted to this question. Reverse Sort 


I Think That The Harry Potter Books May Introduce More People To... Nov 19th. at 12:52:23 pm UTC

Lira (Lunenburg, Massachusetts US) Age: 31


I think that the Harry Potter books may introduce more people to Paganism out of the desire to achieve the instant, and glamourous results seen in the pages. Or, more ironically, they might investigate magick and Witchcraft because of all the xtian furor that these books and movie created. I am fine with either motivation. If Christianity offered a more fulfilling experience, the religion as a whole would not be losing so many of its members to alternative paths.

I think the most profound effect that the books had on me was to awaken a fledgling desire to found a Pagan school. Hogwarts, of course, is pure fantasy - but who hasn't wished for a similar place where one could go to learn, away from less tolerant minds? One sees Hebrew schools, Parochial schools...why not a Wiccan school? Has anyone else talked about a venture of this sort? Obviously, one would not be going there to learn how to fly on a broomstick. But one could imagine a curriculum where courses in Ritual Structure and Goddesses 101 were offered next to their more mundane cousins Pre-Calc and 19th Century British Literature.

With a School of Witchcraft and Wizardry making the front page of the public mind, I just wanted to throw this out to the Pagan community at large and see what people think of such an idea.

Yours in the Goddess,


This Could Be A Long One... Thirty Years Old, No Kids, A... Nov 19th. at 1:14:55 pm UTC

Dawn Marie Nikithser (Hightstown, New Jersey US) Age: 30 - Email


This could be a long one...
Thirty years old, no kids, a grown-up professional with a home and a car and student loans and all those other things, and I am just wild about Harry. I bought the first book on a whim, bought the others within a week of that, and I have been chewing my fingernails to the quick for months now, desperate for book five. My tickets for the film were purchased weeks ago and I was literally the first person in the theatre for our 11pm showing Friday night. It did not disappoint - wonderfully done, tight to the book, well-acted and beautifully told. I will see it again.
Now, onto the other questions. Will Harry and Hogwarts bring people (and children) into Paganism? It could, but, by that logic, Memoirs of a Geisha could bring people into prostitution, or at least to an interest in it. I doubt that most of the child readers of Harry Potter will dash to their nearest "New Age" section, frantically buying up copies of Buckland's Complete Book of Witchcraft. In fact, an 11-year old girl who, after reading Harry, began asking me questions about being a Witch quickly lost interest when I assured her I could not make feathers float, make locks open, turn into a cat or fly. The fantasy of "witch" is very different from the reality Witch, and even if they should begin to question, most kids will pick up on that pretty fast. For older kids, teenagers and adults who discover Harry and begin peeking at the Pagan books in the local Barnes and Noble, it could open the door. But just a crack. How far they follow through that door and down the hallway is up to them.
There are things in Harry's world that are "accurate" representations of what we believe. Magic, especially that done for "evil", has a cost. Respect for all things is communicated, if not terribly overtly. Animals are seen as valuable magical beings and partners. Study is encouraged; magic does not come easy and the principles must be learned. And, from the first book, an important lesson that I have taken to including in my teaching: one should call all things by their real name, for fear of a name increases fear of the thing named. So, yes, there are some good parallels, though obviously not purposeful ones. I sincerely doubt that J. K. Rowling has a secret agenda to lure children to occult study or even to interest them in Modern Paganism, no matter what the 700 club thinks.
And speaking of the 700 club, do the books, and others like them, entice children into the occult/new age/Paganism/etc?(I am lumping for a reason, and mean no disrespect) Well, that is the question, isn't it? Frankly, for me, they did. Not the Harry Potters, but books like them.
When I was a child, I was a prodigious and voracious reader, easily handling adult books by the third grade. My father had a healthy appetite for things fantastic and phantasmic, and he passed that onto me - I could recite Poe's "The Raven" by second grade, and adored Saturday afternoon showings of old Hammer horror flicks. And I loved folklore, and folk magic, especially the kind my Italian-Catholic grandmother taught me. So perhaps the foundation was laid by blood, but the rest of the structure was built with the help of books.
It was probably Tolkien and Lewis that started me along the path - their fictional worlds of magic sent me looking for "real life" counterparts which, thanks to my mother's penchant for thrift stores and frequent library visits, I found. You'd be surprised where you can spot the information, if you are a curious child with a love for research. National Geographic, anthropology mags, old issues of Fate and the Fortean Times - the stuff is out there, and it started me on the Path I hold to today. Admittedly, my experience is not the norm - most kids, especially today, have "better" things to do than comb through piles of old magazines and dusty books. But there are a few out there who will do it, and fantasy books can start them along. But I believe that fearing this will happen on a large scale is both ridiculous and wishful, and it ain't gonna happen. And the only true magic that J. K. Rowling is guilty of is bringing children away from the joystick, the television and the internet, and back to the heft of a hardcover, the smell of a newly-cracked binding, and the joy of the pictures that words can create in the head. And I think any God would thank her for that.

My two knuts - blessings to all and sorry for going on so long.


Yes. I'm Wild About Harry. I Started Reading The Books When I... Nov 19th. at 1:40:27 pm UTC

Heather H (Port Orchard, Washington US) Age: 30


Yes. I'm wild about Harry. I started reading the books when I saw the first, tiny article in Time magazine about the Potter craze that hit England. But contrary to popular opinion (both christian and pagan) I think that these books are extreamly secular. There is no religion in the books, only Good and Evil (not god and the devil). And Good and Evil comes only from the person involved. Harry is good, because he chooses to be. Voldemort is evil because he chooses to be. I think that this what really bugs the ultra-fundementalist christians, eventhough they don't realize it. I have always viewed the witchcraft/wizardry in the books as a talent that the characters have. Hogwarts is no different than Julliard. Harry is no different than an 11 year old piano virtuoso. I think that most of us have been in the position that Harry is at the begining of the 1st book. Stuck in a situation we can't control, not knowing what we want out of or to do with our life. We would all like to have someone deliver a letter that tells us what we are, whether it be "You're really an artist...writer...accountant." And there's other peple just like you.
The pagan religion has nothing to do with Rowlings world. I wouldn't put it past her to have copies of some of our herbal encyclopedias and older spell books, but she does not use the pagan religion in the books.
Having said that, I do think that the books may cause some kids (and adults) to go to the library to look up witchcraft. Then they may find our religion. I would also like to think that there's some kid out there whose parents are Wiccans and when their friends find out, they don't give the kid a hard time. In fact, their friends might find it cool.
I did get to see the movie on Friday. I must say that I really liked it. They did a very good job of putting the audience in Hogwarts. My favorite parts were: (contrary to Peg) the quidditch match, I think it was meant to make us think of the speeder-bike chase in Return of the Jedi. It certainly gave me a better idea of what a match would look like and how fast it would be. I also thought the wizard's chess scene was much better on screen than on paper. The actor's were pretty much spot on (though I would have rather had John Heard (Ollivander) as Dumbledore. I remember him as the Storyteller in the Henson series). The kids were wonderful, especially Ron. I loved the whole atmosphere and Britishness of the movie. I plan on seeing it again, just so I can concentrate on the background, especially the moving paintings. Having said that, I must admit that I still wish that they had chosen to do the books as good, old fashioned, British, 4 to 6 part mini-series. I think that, at least, books 3 and 4 should be done that way. I can't imagine how they can do book 4 as a feature film. And I will say here that Rowen Atkison (in his Blackadder the 2nd incarnation) has my vote for Sirius Black.
In closing, I think that the movie will make kids go back to read the books. It made me go back to see what they had left out.


I Have To Admit, I Was Looking Forward To The Movie As... Nov 19th. at 3:35:01 pm UTC

Manda (Memphis, Tennessee US) Age: 21 - Email


I have to admit, I was looking forward to the movie as much as the preteens in the neighborhood. I went and saw it on opening night, and all around, it was exactly what I expected: a wonderful CHILDREN'S story about wizards and magic.
I doubt that this movie will encourage children to do anything more than pick up a book on Witchcraft. Once they realize that we don't zip around on brooms and that magick is work, they will put them back down and go on about their lives. Well, unless they truly have the urge to learn about Paganism, in which case they would have found their way with or without Mr. Potter.
The magic in the movie was entertaining, and could be, with a bit of mental yoga, based in the real. However, equating the wizardry in the movie to real magick would take about as much of a stretch as the theory a friend of mine that The Matrix is actually about the story of Christ.
Overall, I think the best response to anyone who is worried about Harry leading their children into "the occult" (*gasp*) is a pitying silence. If they want to make sure their children aren't "led astray", perchance they should sit down with the children and read the books with them. Then talk to them about the stories, making sure they know they are just fiction.
It saddens me to no end that children can no longer have anything without it being ruined by us adults. Sesame Street, the Teletubbies, Pokemon, Harry Potter... the list of things that are innocent until our adult minds twist them into something they are not, and never were intended to be, grows every year. When will we learn?


I Was Lucky Enough To See The Preview On Remembrance Day. I... Nov 19th. at 4:10:28 pm UTC

Riannon Silvermoon (New Westminster, British Columbia CA) Age: 19 - Email


I was lucky enough to see the preview on Remembrance Day.
I thought the movie was pure entertainment - as are the books. I loved it.
I think the movie will bring more attention to Paganism and the study of Magick, but I don't think it will bring too many converts. I believe the open-minded people will go out and buy a few 'Wicca 101' books to learn more about witchcraft in the real world, and those who feel touched, may cross over and find a new path.
the people who are closed-minded will (and already are) look at the movie scream "EVIL!" and move to ban everything Harry Potter and Witchcraft related from their town.
I don't really think that the movie depicts even an exaggerated premise of real witchcraft and spellwork. It is pure fantasy magick.
Well... they do learn some herb lore, and use wands... but I feel that's a very minor representation of some of the tools of witchcraft.
For those who want to do it like Harry? if they think all witchcraft is, is waving a wand and shouting 'Lumos!' to create light - they should know that the only way that's going to work is if they're standing too close to the light switch and accidentally hit it with their wand. ^_^
If they're seriously interested, I would recommend they check some books on modern witchcraft / Wicca / Paganism out of the library, or even purchase a book or two from the New Age section in their local bookstore and check it out, before making a commitment.
I would also reccomend the same thing for those who believe it is anti-Christian or will 'entice children into the world of the occult'
I know that since my younger sister has read the books, the only magic she's become interested in is stage magic - disappearing tricks and optical illusions - hardly occult!


I Have Not Yet Seen The Movie, But Am Dieing To. I... Nov 19th. at 5:58:56 pm UTC

Raven Whitewolf (Hanford, California US) Age: 18 - Email


I have not yet seen the movie, but am dieing to. I have heard great things about it, and of cource, any movie that does not portray witchs as evil, satan-worshiping old hags, always gets a few brownie points in my book. I have read all 4 of the books at least 3 times over (each), and loved them each and every time.

I believe that it will be very hard for this movie to live up to everyone expectations, because the books are done in such detail and everyone's vision is different. I am hopeful that it will live up to most people's expectations at least in part.


Sorry, This Isn't Going To Be About "harry", Haven't Seen It Yet... Nov 19th. at 6:44:00 pm UTC

mik63033 (Ferguson, Missouri US) Age: 41 - Email


Sorry, this isn't going to be about "Harry", haven't seen it yet, plan to thanksgiving. Wish me luck. Even though this is technically a few wks. coming (in other words, late), it does have to do with how "Witchcraft" is portrayed by the entertainment industry, so I hope this post stays posted.

I didn't give much thought to the "recommendations" Perspective, though I did run across a video yesterday that deserves mentioning. From time to time I play Wiccan watchdog in my local video rental chains, interested in any movie with Wicca or Witchcraft as it's subject matter or in the title, and how it's being portrayed to the general public. I ran across this little semi-precious gem in the "Horror" section at my local Hollywood Video. Never mind the fact that it's a comedy (more on this later).

It's called "Equinox Knocks", and going by the hokey cover on the video box, I expected this to be more trash from your typical anti-Wiccan bitter little man with misogynist tendecies who's socially retarded and just plain slow. I was very pleasantly surprised.

The filmaker admits before the movie actually begins that she knows nothing about Witchcraft among other things. What's important is that first, she was honest; second, a lead character who's a witch is portrayed in a VERY positive light; and last but not least, I got a kick out of it. It was a hoot! And anyone familiar with highschool will relate. Of course there are some silly elements (pardon the pun) ala "Charmed", and I'll admit there's this whole sub-plot that's way Cheech and Chongish, and o.k. - the witch is suspiciously like Willow of "Buffy" fame. That doesn't matter though. It's fun! Check it out and enjoy.

By the way, I told the manager that anyone renting it expecting a horror movie would be disappointed because it's a comedy. I wouldn't count on any video rental store having any movie in the right section. Go to the check-out where the computers are and ask if they have "Equinox Knocks" and have some laughs.

Love, winks, and plenty of popcorn


The Movie Was Excellent; Under The Prodding Of My 14 Year Old... Nov 19th. at 9:02:32 pm UTC

Gale Price (Starkville, Mississippi US) Age: 48 - Email


The movie was excellent; under the prodding of my 14 year old I read the first book of the series a year or two ago; I think I will find the time to read the rest of the series soon.
It is strange, but the children's books that have likely brought the most young people to Paganism were written by active and thoughtful Christians (the Lord of the Rings & the Chronicles of Narnia). As for whether this series, a standard British boarding school series, graced by fine writing and Halloween-style regalia, encourages anyone toward Paganism --- time only will tell. The work's only approach to the occult, so far as I can see, reflects the play-fascination of imaginative children and the child's fascination for worlds where the rules are "all different." Not much Gardner, or Golden Dawn, or Crowley to be found in Harry Potter --- just kids at play.
Harry Potter is, however, a wonderful antidote to the closed mind. As a book that kids want to read, as a celebration of the imagination, and now a delightfully intriguing film, it is great stuff. I am rather more interested in persuading kids to use their brains than in "enticing" them toward anything --- I am of the opinion that Harry Potter, in book and in film, encourages children of all ages to open their minds. I love Harry Potter, as I will love anything that leaves my children seeing more, dreaming more, and imagining more. "Occult" has nothing to do with it.


How Many Attracted Through Potter? How Many Attracted Through Mists Of Avalon... Nov 19th. at 10:37:25 pm UTC

Tarostar (Toronto, Ontario CA) Age: 59 - Email


How many attracted through potter?
How many attracted through Mists of Avalon? J.R.R. Tolkien?, or the book MORNING OF THE MAGICIANS?

Those who feel the call of the deep will search it out. Those who only enjoy fantasy won't.

I see the anti-potter hype only serving to draw attention
to the books and film. I often wonder if not some smart publicity agent doesn't put out the fundy hysteria him/herself?????

I was more concerned with the depressed puppies, who might be moved toward the occult by the movie The Craft, than with Potter.

Also, I usually leave the room, when someone comes into The Occult Shop asking for Sliver Ravenwolf's Teen Witch Kit. Don't get me started!!!!! BB


A Lot Of Praise Out There For Potter, And Rightfully So--- The... Nov 19th. at 11:18:53 pm UTC

breeze (pasco, Washington US) Age: 40 - Email


a lot of praise out there for Potter, and rightfully so--- the movie remains surprisingly true to the first book. after reading responses here and on other witchvox pages, i'll add the following unsung praises and criticisms: excellent casting of alan rickman as snapes, john hurt as ollivander, fiona shaw as aunt petunia and zoe wannamaker as madam hooch---they were perfect for these roles. a stunning set for diagon alley, brilliant paintings 'come alive' throughout the halls (wonderfully subtle effect), and good costuming all around. negatives: really poor CG effort on the forest centaur and fluffy the wonderdogdogdog (coca cola polar bears from the early 90's were more impressive), and the soundtrack was a huge disappointment (no memorable melodies throughout the entire film--test yourself, can you hum any of it after your first showing?)--- john williams does a blatant reconstruction of his former work (plenty of Schindler's List at Hogwartz). do i think the movie reflects on wicca and neo-paganism? no more than dorothy and the wizard of oz.


Blessings, I've Read A Fair Amount Of Reviews On The Net And... Nov 20th. at 2:47:55 am UTC

GaiasForestChild (Plymouth, England UK) Age: 17 - Email


Blessings,
I've read a fair amount of reviews on the net and for whatever reason it seems that the pagan ones tend to be somewhat more forgiving and positive.
I must admit I never read the books which is probably why I found the film plot disconnected and patchy. The director leaves a lot of unnecessary things in and leaves out some important parts (hey, come on, of course we all loved the baby dragon but he didn't serve much of a purpose!). That wasn't at all helpful to me, not having a background in Potter.
Then again, as I understand it there isn't much of a plot in the book either - it's basically a huge introduction to the characters with a bit of action stuck on the end.
Oh, they really could have spent a little more on cgi both time and money wise; I mean just compare quidditch and the pod race (star wars) and you'll see what I mean!

That said, it was an enjoyable film. It was ok - just not as great as everybody made it out to be and be honest - how many of you are really going back and watching it again?




I Haven't Read The Books, And I Probably Won't See The Movie... Nov 20th. at 7:32:55 am UTC

John ("New Naumkeag", Ohio US) Age: 34 - Email


I haven't read the books, and I probably won't see the movie till sometime after Thanksgiving; I wonder if a lot of people in the U.S. are like that, and I wonder, thus, if this question should have been asked in a week or two.

Anyway, from what I know (from reading about the Harry Potter books), they seem to be good children's fantasy books and nothing more.

Like Tarotstar wrote in an earlier post, those who feel the call can feel first it a variety of settings, including fiction. But, that is all they are: settings in which a real call might be more easily heard. In other words, there must already be a call, which for the Craft is not very common and which must thereafter be pursued in Reality.

Otherwise, fantasy stories involving magic and Witchcraft are just that: fantasy stories. If the past is prediction (like Tolkein's works), fantasy stories like Harry Potter won't have an effect much beyond that of entertainment.

As for the Harry Potter movie, I can make one remark without having seen it. I saw the *lines* of families (not just kids, but whole families) waiting to buy tickets to see it. My first thought was: "It's this generation's 'Star Wars.'" But, there was something else to see, obvious and easily overlooked. Families were actually going to the movies together, as families. And that was a wonderful bit of magic to behold. That wasn't the Craft. Instead, that is the magic of being human and the magic of a good tale that is able to bring everyone together for a moment of levity and entertainment and as families.

Blessed Be and (for those in the U.S.) Happy Thanksgiving.

--John


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